Charleston to review ‘gathering place’ zoning

The Standard apartments fall under the gathering place zoning on Maybank Highway.

City leaders plan to take a second look at their “gathering place” zoning ordinance after many James Island residents complained about the traffic and other quality-of-life issues it might bring.

City Council Tuesday voted unanimously in favor of a moratorium until Jan. 27 on processing applications and permits for gathering place zoning.

And Jacob Lindsey, the city’s planning director, said he plans to pull together a team to review the zoning ordinance and how it possibly could be amended. He said he planned to make a presentation to Council on the matter in 90 days.

Areas with gathering place zoning are meant to be walkable neighborhoods that include a mix of residential and commercial space. But the area on James Island zoned as a gathering place consists largely of rental housing.

The development, near the intersection of Maybank Highway and Folly Road on James Island, highlights problems with the city’s gathering place zoning, opponents have said.

That development now includes the 280-unit The Standard apartment complex, and a new 340-unit apartment complex and a 160-unit senior living facility are in the works.

Lindsay Hamrick, a James Island resident and a Realtor, said during the public comment portion of the meeting that she supports the moratorium.

The gathering place on Maybank Highway is too dense, she said, and it will bring too many cars. “I don’t know how we’re going to survive,” she said. “It’s going to be awful.”

City Councilwoman Kathleen Wilson, who represents a portion of James Island, said city leaders haven’t studied the impact the development will have on traffic. “We need a traffic study,” she said.

Councilman Aubry Alexander said he supported the moratorium. But, he said, the city is growing and is going to have to have some more dense areas. “If we are not going to allow this city to go vertical, we are going to have to spread.”

Reach Diane Knich at (843) 937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.

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